Once upon a time, a family celebrated the dedication of their second child and their first baby boy. It turned out to be a very huge ceremony with so many friends coming to their house after the church service. There was so much to eat and to drink!
The couple spent so much time entertaining the guests and making sure that all who came had something to eat and to drink. The master of ceremony was really phenomenal as he entertained the guest with lots of interesting jokes. As the occasion was getting to an end, he (the MC) announced that he would pick someone randomly from among the guests to make a speech in appreciation to the family. A young lady was given the microphone.
In her speech, the lady thanked the family for the wonderful meal which she enjoyed as well as the take-away packages. Finally she prayed that the BABY GIRL they came to celebrate would be a success that she would live to see her children’s children. At this point there was murmuring among the guests. She paused and tried to find out if all was in place and that was when the MC came closer to tell her that the child they came to celebrate is a BABY BOY and not a BABY GIRL. She apologised and concluded her prayerful speech.
Let us understand this very well. The lady in question was with them at the Church. At the reception in their compound the MC mentioned several times that they came to celebrate the new BABY BOY of the family. However all the while, the lady in question was more interested in the menu and the entertainment to the extent that she did not remember the gender of the celebrant.
We have this same incidence happening every now and then during the celebration of Christmas. Many people jump into the atmosphere of Christmas with little or no connection with the person who is being celebrated and why. This is the unfortunate situation that has turned Christmas to Xmas. And the birth of Christ to the bloom of commerce. Someone once wrote an article titled “Why I hate Christmas”. Among other things he bemoaned the fact that Christmas has totally being commercialized and the values lost!
If you take an extensive and intensive check, you will see that attention of the world has shifted from God: the Father of Christmas to Santa Claus: “Father Christmas”. From giving ourselves to God to giving ourselves to “Goods”. From celebrating Christ to celebrating crisis. Christmas has been redefined and misapplied. For many people, including google images, Christmas is all about snowy landscape with flowery lights and radiant triangle-shaped trees. In the face of all these we ask: Where is Christ in our Christmas?
By definition Christmas is the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ which took place more than two thousand years ago. In fact, it is the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why do we celebrate the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ? We do so because his birth marks the beginning of a new era; the era of our salvation. The last verse of the First Reading on Christmas day (Isaiah 52:7-10) says: “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of God”. Without the Nativity there would not have been the death on the Cross and without the death on the Cross, Resurrection would have been a figment of imagination. And without the Resurrection there would be no salvation. So the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ opened the doorway to our salvation. Hence, Christmas is also the birthday of our salvation.
The birth of our Lord Jesus Christ was foretold by the prophet Isaiah (7:14) “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel”. This prophecy is very clear and direct. The Virgin (who will forever remain a virgin) is Mary (Matt. 1:18; Luke 1:27). The Son who will be called Immanuel (God is with us) (Matt.1:23) is also called Jesus (Luke 1:31); the Son of the Most High (Luke 1:32); the Son of God (Luke 1: 35).
We are celebrating in this season, the source and summit of our new life (2 Cor.5:17). We are called upon to make Christ the focus of our celebration. Christ should not be lacking in our Christmas. To discover Christ in our Christmas we are called upon to become the source of joy unto others as the birth of our Lord brought joy to all creation.
If we pay attention to the nativity narrative from the account of Luke (2:8ff), we will discover that the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ was given first to Shepherds who were taking care of the sheep at night. We could ask, “why Shepherds?” They were not among the rich and sophisticated in the society. They could have being poor sleepless folks whose lives depended on the sheep.
The good news was given to them first because they represented what our Lord came to do: namely to be the Good Shepherd (John 10:11). They were simple folks who trusted in God and were ready to leave everything (even their sheep) in order to spread the good news (Matt.2:15-20). They were poor not just physically but also in spirit (Matt.5:3).
At Christmas we are called to share the joy, help the poor, show mercy as God showed mercy to us. This “mercy project” is more needful as we have entered the year of mercy. At Christmas we are called upon to discover Christ in people around us. Those old clothes, shoes and others things can become some other person’s great treasure for pleasure this season. As you move around, remember that there are many in prisons and hospitals to whom this Christmas may be pains and tears. Remember also that there are so many in orphanages and internally displaced people’s camps haemorrhaging with deprivation and thus in need.
The Christmas cannot be complete until we discover Christ who is the true and ideal reason for the season. Do have a gracious celebration of Christmas and may God’s grace remain doubled in your life. Remember to keep Christ in Christmas!